Don’t make employees wait for their incentives.
I’m just going to start this off by saying, getting paid is great. Payday is an exciting day for a reason! What’s even better is when your employer says, for example, “If you write 5 blogs today, I will give you an extra $100”. Whoa, let me get to writin’! Then they follow it up by saying, “Which you will receive on your next paycheck”. Alright, well that party came to an abrupt stop.
Instantly I go from anticipating my paycheck to feeling irritated that I have to wait for my incentive. Even though, moments before, I was excited about payday. No, it’s not just me being greedy. This is actually behavioral science. The way employees get their incentives is not an ideal way to foster growth or reward their good behaviors. It lacks consistency, frequency and there’s also a lack of connection between the reward and the behavior that earned it.
Here’s a super famous example: ever heard of Pavlov? You know, the guy with the dogs and the bell? He had to maintain consistency and frequency in order to get the dogs to understand that a ringing bell = come get your food. Their brains didn’t understand that at first, of course, but after they were taught through consistency and frequency what the bell meant, they knew they’d be rewarded with food.
The same practice can easily be applied to employees receiving incentives.
When do employees do the good thing? When their employers entice them with incentives.
When do employees receive their incentives? Two weeks later. Ouch.
The reward system will never match the behavior that the employer is trying to improve because the incentive is coming too late. It isn’t consistent or frequent enough to change human behavior. We are creatures of habit by nature. We fall into lazy lulls and get distracted or leave a project unfinished. We need incentives to keep us motivated and to shape us into better workers. The problem is, the reward comes too late and too infrequently for the human brain to connect the reward with the action. Before you know it, you slip back into the same habits your employer was trying to change.
Solid Number’s platform enables a behavior redemption system that actually rewards in real-time, thus, the good behavior is instantly connected to the incentive. With Solid Number, it’s easy to teach an old dog new tricks 🙂